|Written by Mark Nichols|
It’s stories like these that are really turning off the American public when it comes to the utter, big-government failure that is our so-called “war on drugs”. By now you’ve probably heard about the horror story out of New Mexico where a man suspected of having drugs in his anal cavity was subjected to no less than eight invasive procedures. No drugs were found during the anal exams, colonoscopy, two enemas or during the meticulous search of the suspect’s stool.
Needless to say the incident is huge news- partially because of the grossness factor and also due to the fact that these are the kinds of incidents Americans are routinely associating with what can only be described as wildly enthusiastic, if not overzealous enforcement of low-level drug violations.
There was no such violation in this case, which makes it all the harder to explain or understand.
According to KOB4 news, a review of medical records, police reports and a federal lawsuit show deputies with the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office, police officers with the City of Deming and medical professionals at the Gila Regional Medical Center made some strange calls recently.
Back on January 2, 2013, police stopped one David Eckert as he drove out of a Wal-Mart in Deming. According to a federal lawsuit, Eckert didn't make a complete stop at a stop sign coming out of the parking lot and officers made the stop.
Eckert's attorney, Shannon Kennedy, said in an interview with KOB that after law enforcement asked him to step out of the vehicle they indicated that he appeared to be clenching his buttocks. Officers on the scene decided that this was probable cause to suspect that Eckert was hiding narcotics in his anal cavity.
Eckert was detained while police secured a search warrant from a judge that allowed them to search his anus.
The lawsuit claims that Deming Police tried taking Eckert to an emergency room in Deming, but a doctor there refused to perform the anal cavity search. The doctor said it was "unethical," and refused to participate. It’s unclear if the doctor while face charges for failing to perform the anal search.
Physicians at the Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City has no such reservations. They agreed to perform the procedure and a few hours later, Eckert was admitted and prepped for anal probing.
Next came the repeated and humiliating forced medical procedures. A review of Eckert's medical records, which he released to KOB, and details in the lawsuit show the following happened:
1. Eckert's abdominal area was x-rayed; no narcotics were found.
2. Doctors then performed an exam of Eckert's anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.
3. Doctors performed a second exam of Eckert's anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.
4. Doctors penetrated Eckert's anus to insert an enema. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
5. Doctors penetrated Eckert's anus to insert an enema a second time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
6. Doctors penetrated Eckert's anus to insert an enema a third time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
7. Doctors then x-rayed Eckert again; no narcotics were found.
8. Doctors prepared Eckert for surgery, sedated him, and then performed a colonoscopy where a scope with a camera was inserted into Eckert's anus, rectum, colon, and large intestines. No narcotics were found.
Throughout this ordeal, Eckert protested and never gave doctors at the Gila Regional Medical Center consent to perform any of these medical procedures.
"If the officers in Hidalgo County and the City of Deming are seeking warrants for anal cavity searches based on how they're standing and the warrant allows doctors at the Gila Hospital of Horrors to go in and do enemas and colonoscopies without consent, then anyone can be seized and that's why the public needs to know about this," Kennedy said.
It’s not difficult to understand why people would have tremendous concerns about police officers being able to bring suspects into hospitals to have unwanted procedures performed, on their own dime no less, with “possibly over-clenched buttocks” standing in as probable cause.
But even if one thinks eight procedures to find drugs that weren’t there is reasonable there are other issues. In addition to questions about what kind of doctor performs invasive procedures based on cops’ hunches, there are also concerns about the way the search warrant was executed.
Kennedy argues that the search warrant was overly broad and lacked probable cause. But beyond that, the warrant was only valid in Luna County, where Deming is located. The Gila Regional Medical Center is in Grant County. That means all of the medical procedures were performed illegally and the doctors who performed the procedures did so with no legal basis and no consent from the suspect, detainee and "patient".
And even if the search warrant was executed in the proper correct New Mexico county, the warrant expired at 10 p.m. Medical records show the prepping for the colonoscopy started at 1 a.m. the following day.
"This is like something out of a science fiction film, anal probing by government officials and public employees," Kennedy said.
KOB reached out to the attorneys representing the defendants in the lawsuit and none wanted to talk on the record.
But KOB4 reporter Chris Ramirez cornered Deming Police Chief Brandon Gigante.
"As the police chief what reassurances could you give people when they come through your town that they won't be violated or abused by your police officers?" Ramirez asked Chief Gigante.
"We follow the law in every aspect and we follow policies and protocols that we have in place," Chief Gigante replied.
Needless to say the smart money’s on a massive payout to Mr. Eckert.
David Eckert is suing The City of Deming and Deming Police Officers Bobby Orosco, Robert Chavez and Officer Hernandez. Eckert is also suing Hidalgo County Hidalgo County Deputies David Arredondo, Robert Rodriguez and Patrick Green. Eckert is also suing Deputy District Attorney Daniel Dougherty and the Gila Regional Medical Center including Robert Wilcox, M.D and Okay Odocha, M.D.
editor's note: The law enforcement profession is having some difficulty adjusting to societal changes, particluraly concerniong attitudesw about drug use and drug enforcement. The key for law enforcement leaders is thoughtfully picking your battles and staying out of the business of defending the indefensible.
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